IB program under fire in the US

Last year, two school board members in the Minneapolis suburb of Minnetonka unsuccessfully pushed to get rid of IB because they said it was anti-American and anti-Christian.

OUCH! An article in the Boston Globe looks at the attack facing the International Baccalaureate or IB program in Pittsburgh at the moment and other places around the U.S. There are some harsh quotes coming out of this article, and some that as an international educator makes me wonder about the America I left 4 years ago.

Jeffrey Beard the director of the IBO states:

“We’ve tried to develop a curriculum that is truly international,”

From what I’ve seen of the program here at my school, that is what makes the IB program so popular among our high schoolers. The program takes an international approach to teaching social studies which always seems to be the course that receives the most attention.

“I suppose bias can leak into certain topics, but for the most part you can’t make psychology anti-American or math anti-American,” Lohrenz said.

If we can agree that the world is getting flatter and that our students will need to understand global economies, and global history, then programs like the IB should be held in high regards.

What is America afraid of? I have to admit other then visiting for 2 months in the summer I have not spend much time in the US in the past 4 years. My wife and I took jobs in Saudi Arabia 4 months after the 9/11 attacks. I watch international news channels, read international newspapers, I work with Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, Chinese, and a host of other nationalities on a daily basis. So I admit my view on an international curriculum might be a bit skewed.

Started in 1968 in Switzerland, IB’s original focus was educating the children of diplomats, who traveled often and needed an education recognized worldwide.

This is also the strength of the IB program. It is recognized world wide which is way it is so popular in the international circle. Students who complete and pass the IB exam have a choice to go to Universities all over the world and not just tied down to American University’s.

The number of IB students worldwide grew 73 percent between 2000 and 2005, to 62,885, according to the International Baccalaureate Organization.

With this kind of growth can we afford not to be offering our students the option of taking IB courses? To have a choice to take American history for the 4th or 5th time or to take a history class that focuses on a global perspective? How do we expect American students to compete in a global world when their education system does not expand beyond the walls of their own nation in fear of being Anti-American?

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